Psychopathology and Religious Experience

7 February 2023, 4.00 PM - 7 February 2023, 6.00 PM

Room G.H01 of Arts Complex, 7 Woodland Road


Dr Tasia Scrutton (University of Leeds)


Dr David Leech (University of Bristol)


Psychiatric literature about when instances of voice hearing should be regarded as religiously-inflected psychopathology and when they should be regarded as religious experiences tend to presuppose that a person’s experience can only be either psychopathological, or else a genuine religious experience. In this paper I will consider an alternative: the possibility of a both-and account. A both-and account might involve the idea that a religious experience causes psychopathology, or is psychopathology, or that people open to religious experiences may also be susceptible to psychopathology. After arguing that all of these are unsatisfactory, I will argue for another version of a both-and account: that genuine religious experience can arise out of situations involving psychopathology. I will also point to some of the clinical and pastoral implications of my view. 


Dr Tasia Scrutton is Associate Professor in Philosophy and Religion at the University of Leeds. Much of her work relates to the relationship between religion and mental health from a philosophical and theological perspective. Her current research involves the possibility of developing a both-and account of religious experience and mental illness. She is author of Christianity and Depression: interpretation, meaning and the shaping of experience (2020), and Thinking through Feeling: God, emotion and passibility (2011).


*After the seminar talk and Q&A, there will be a short reception with drinks and nibbles.

All are welcome!



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